There were many people who didn’t bother with the Coronation full stop. A few misguided people wanted to use the occasion to pedal their views (“he’s not my king”) but by and large yesterday we came together and watched King Charles III and his wife Camilla be crowned King and Queen of England.
In this blog, I muse on the Coronation, why it made me proud and what it made me proud about,
Everything went right
The service went right, it was a beautiful event, my 90 year old mother – who’d seen the last coronation phoned me to say how she had loved it.
For millions of people , living in modern Britain, it affirmed why , for all our frailties, we are a distinct, inclusive and tolerant nation that recreates its heritage in a thoughtful way.
So much could have gone wrong yesterday, but none of it did. We will all have our best bits, mine included standing outside St Paul’s as the procession wound back from Westminster Abbey , listening to Bow Bells on one side and the massive peals from the Cathedral, on the other.
Thoughts on succession
Charles is 13 years older than me. Statistically, I will see another Coronation.
At 74 Charles is the oldest monarch to be crowned, Jo Biden is running for president at 80. We can renew or even begin our careers deep into what is termed “retirement”.
The average tenure of a CEO or Chair of a corporation is around 6 years , though our expectation is that monarchs survive as many decades. Watching the intense pictures of our King and thinking back to me watching cross-legged, his investiture as Prince of Wales, I realized he has lived a life in waiting that was etched on the furrows of his face.
His son, William, watched on, already much older than his father when invested. His expectations of kingship require the patience his father displayed. This very dignified procession between generations was very much on my mind as I watched the service.
Thoughts on inclusion
Charles is my king and throughout the service I was proud to be his subject. I swore the oath and we sung the hymns and we marveled at the inclusivity of the service. It is a tough ask to profess Protestantism as the faith, yet to include those of all faiths in the church.
There will be many, especially in Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland, who will see the inclusion of a Catholic cleric as heretical to their view of the Union. We must be sensitive even to intolerance, this was one of the many achievements of the service.
A Bible lesson was read by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is Hindu, and music was sung in Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Irish.
For those in the rain
As with the six mile queue to see the coffin, the six day camping vigil to gain a place where you could see the procession rather than selfie sticks recording the procession, was not for me.
I had been down in St James a couple of times during the week, cycling or walking to meetings. We watched and listened from our flat in the City as helicopters flew over, bells tolled and the rain fell.
It was great to see the Mall rammed at the end but I suspect that actual numbers lining the street were quite low. Communities get together to party , the procession was pretty dull.
There may have been congregations around large screens around the country, but unlike 1953, we all now have televisions and I suspect as many people were watching on portable digital devices as fixed screens.
You didn’t have to get wet to get the Coronation.
Being British or living in Britain?
It rained and this event was (for me) a raincheck. It made me stop and think what it’s like to live in Britain today. I am not so interested in being British as experiencing Britain as the place I live.
I say this as I increasingly find my Britishness accidental. I can sit in the Cockpit and know that I am one of the few people in there on the day with a British passport. It’s fine for me to walk into a meeting and be the only Brit in the room, I think I am the only person in AgeWage with a British passport.
Yesterday, I wondered whether Charles was my King or King of the country where I lived and writing this I conclude that he is both.
And I am as proud of the country I live in as I am of being a citizen of it. One thing I’m sure of is that those who I share this country with, whether British or not, are very welcome!
And that was a good message from yesterday.